We drove two days to get there, stayed two days and drove two days back home. Roughly 1800 miles, Ken says. Definitely not the ideal vacation and certainly not the classic wandering road trip–but a mini reunion with beloved relatives made it worthwhile. And even on a short trip, we make discoveries.
Here’s what we managed to see and do on our trip from Tucson AZ to Carmel CA and back.
The Kofa Cafe, an “Undiscovered Gem of Arizona”. Despite the fact it sits on a little-traveled byway, the Kofa draws visitors from around the world, which is why “undiscovered” is in quotation marks. See more in this little slide show. (From Tucson,to avoid Phoenix, we take 85 north from Gila Bend to US 10. Then we go north from Rt. 10 toward Vicksburg, and then take 72 toward Parker to continue west.)
Blue Highways Despite all the times we have driven between AZ and CA, we drove on roads we had never been on.
We avoided driving the freeways through the northern edge of Los Angles, instead taking desolate desert roads that connected just enough of civilization that we could find food. Vegetation changed from creosote to ocotillo and mesquite to the eerie Joshua trees.
Historic Town Murals Twenty Nine Palms stretches for miles and miles and miles. At least ramshackle homes and official looking street signs (Sandy Claws Lane) sit just off the highway. But the town itself proclaims “The Town of Murals.” And the murals in the business district show scenes from the town’s history–like this one of the Dirty Sock Camp. The legend explains that when the Miners had nothing else they would strain the mud through an old sock to find the tiny flakes of gold.
We followed Rt. 62 from Parker to where it intersected with Rt. 247 going north and curving West again toward Victorville on Rt. 18. Then we took a wrong turn which took us to our next discovery.
Apple Valley. Ken flashed back to his boyhood and informed me that this had been the home of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Sure enough, we were driving on Happy Trails road and crossed Dale Evans Parkway. We thought there might be a museum, however the museum was in Victorville, then moved to Branson Missouri and recently closed for lack of funds. How sad.
Comfort Suites, Victorville We decided to stick with one chain of motels on this trip, and at Victorville, a town that marks the divide between the desert and the inland farming valleys of California, we stayed at the 3rd-ranked lodging on Trip Advisor. The Comfort Suites had very friendly employees, a large room and a great shower head. Although it is just off the freeway, we didn’t hear a sound. We walked across the street to a Marie Callendar’s restaurant where we had a mediocre dinner.
Designer McDonald’s. Ronald McDonald would never recognize this place. Besides serving fancy coffee concoctions–which most McDonald’s now do–the interior design shouted sophistication. Indeed this McDonald’s in Palmdale looked more like a high class lounge than a hamburger joint. It featured 21st century orange square stools at a molded white bar, overstuffed black easy chairs, and asymmetrical arrangements of booths and tables. All that was missing was the bouncer guarding the velvet rope that kept out the hoi-polloi. (The New York Times recently wrote about design in a London McDonald’s and this article talks about some new design in New York City Micky D’s.)
All pictures by Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved. This trip was all on our own dime, so those establishments mentioned are not sponsors.
More to come on this road trip next Tuesday.
What’s the quickest road trip for the longest distance that you ever took? And I’m now on a hunt for these designer McDonald’s. Have you spotted one?